(Arsenal) Deadwood: Season 2 – Funding Mbappe

In the summer of 2013, most Arsenal supporters had one request; get rid of the Deadwood.  Andrei Arshavin, Denilson, Park, Andre Santos, Joel Campbell (his contract finally expires this summer), Abou Diaby, Gervinho, Chamakh, Coquelin, Djourou, Frimpong, Squillaci, and Bendtner were all on the Arsenal books and many of them on huge salaries (Bendtner was reportedly making £55k a week). The logic was simple: clear those players out and you free up salary and cash to buy players who can actually feature for Arsenal and possibly even free up money to buy a big name player. Wenger did exactly that, buying Mesut Özil and selling or loaning out nearly every name on that list.  It is 2017 and given the age of many players on this club or the fact that these players don’t play it’s time for Arsenal to do the same thing again.

Let’s start at the back with Ospina. Ospina is Arsenal’s “cup keeper” and has never settled himself as first choice among the coaching staff or fans. There are a number of reports that Ospina is a coveted player and would fetch £3m or so along with his £40k  week salary. Arsenal could and should replace him with Wojciech Szczesny who is on loan to Roma and having a great season with 14 clean sheets. Szczesny could even displace Cech and start at Arsenal.

Mertesacker has played 804¹ minutes since January 24th 2016. That was the match against Chelsea in which he received a red card. After serving his suspension, he was benched. He has since suffered some injuries but even when he is healthy, he finds himself as 4th choice center back at Arsenal. He is 32 years old and earns £70k a week. Unfortunately, he’s just signed a contract extension until 2018 and it seems highly unlikely that Arsenal will be able to shift him given his age, salary and the fact that he doesn’t play. Best case scenario is a loan move but again that seems unlikely. He seems happy just picking up his salary.

Debuchy is a lot like Mertesacker. He’s played just 733 minutes in the last two seasons for Arsenal, he’s 31 years old, under contract until 2019, and on a huge salary (£70k a week). Rumors about him going out on loan have been abundant. Arsenal are also stocked with options in his position with Bellerin first choice, Gabriel, Chambers, Coquelin, and even Oxlade-Chamberlain has been played as the right wing-back. Marseille were reportedly interested in a loan deal in January but that fell through, and if Arsenal could even get him on loan and have someone pay part of his salary it would be a big win.

4th choice behind even Debuchy, Carl Jenkinson has spent the last two years on loan and was on the verge of signing for Crystal Palace in January 2017 but scuttled the deal when he couldn’t reach personal terms. Jenkinson has since gone on record saying that it wasn’t about the money but he’s on £45k a week and has a deal that runs through 2020. Palace reportedly wanted Jenkinson to take a pay cut and warned him that relegation would mean an additional 40-50% pay cut. He claims that “the conditions weren’t right” and killed the deal. Right before he was injured, he had been dropped at West Ham after a poor outing against West Brom. After that match “Jenko” finished the full 90 minutes just twice before picking up a season ending injury. Jenkinson is no longer a prospect at 25 years old and may be difficult to shift if he sticks to his salary demands but Arsenal will try to move him this summer and could get £5m.

In midfield, Santi Cazorla is on £90k a week, is 32 years old, and has played just 944 minutes since December 2015. Cazorla was out of contract this summer but along with Mertesacker, club and player have agreed to a one year extension. It’s unlikely that Arsenal will sell him because even if they buy someone top quality like Thiago Alcantara, Cazorla would make a great backup. And if Arsenal take a huge gamble on Oxlade-Chamberlain they will need Cazorla to help guide him. But Cazorla will want to play and could agitate for a move if Arsenal buy a top quality replacement.

One of Elneny or Coquelin could be sold to make funds available but Arsenal have more pressing concerns as management needs to take a decision on Jack Wilshere. Wilshere has spent most of his career injured and having finally recovered health spent the season on loan to Bournemouth. You would expect a player with his pedigree to shine but it was a less than successful loan period for the Arsenal man which was cut short with yet another injury. Wilshere led Bournemouth in dribbles (2.1) and key passes (1.3) which shows he still has class but he was dropped by Bournemouth after an absolutely haggard display against Man City and a followed up against West Brom. Wilshere is one of Arsenal’s top paid players and could still fetch a huge sum despite having just a single season left on his current contract.

The question is whether Arsenal would want to sign him, with his injury history and given his season, were he a free agent. Would Arsenal go after this player? Would Wilshere be coveted by a team like Bayern Munich or Barcelona? Those are the standards by which Arsenal should be recruiting and it seems like Wilshere was once tipped to be that type of player but has slipped well below that mark. And what if money from the sale of Wilshere could be used to fund the purchase of an exciting young forward like Mbappe? Wilshere could fetch £30m to the right club and if there are any offers this summer Arsenal should take them.

This similar question, about the level of player Arsenal should be recruiting, could be leveled at the Arsenal forwards. Arsenal have often been found rummaging in the bargain bin when it comes to forwards. Giroud is a decent forward with a great skill set but he’s not a great forward. Rumors abound that Marseille is after his signature and are willing to offer £20m to Arsenal. He’s 30 years old and with an offer like that I expect arsenal to take the money and run. Another decision could be made about Theo Walcott, Yaya Sanogo, and Lucas Perez.

Walcott would be a hot property if he were put on the market, his particular skillset appeals to English teams who want to play counter attacking football. With the big television contracts, every team in the League could afford to buy Walcott for £30m. The question for Arsenal is whether the money is worth it or whether he adds a special kind of depth to the team.

Sanogo should simply be sold but Perez is another question. Clearly the player wants to play and just as clearly the current manager doesn’t rate him. From what I’ve seen, which is limited, he looks a good backup player or late sub.

This has been a disastrous season for Arsenal. The balance of this team has been wrong all season as evidenced by the fact that Wenger hasn’t nailed down a solid starting XI, doesn’t know who his best two midfielders are, can’t get his forward line right, and has recently resorted to an emergency back three to stop the team from bleeding goals. Arsenal need to offload the deadwood and should be looking to buy the very best players in world football and no longer rummaging in bargain bins. Arsenal are one of the richest clubs in Europe, their supporters pay the highest ticket prices in the world, and the club should be building a team capable of winning the Champions League with that money. Players like Alcantara, Mbappe, Lemar, O. Dembele, Kieta, and Andreas Christensen should be at the top of the list for Arsenal.

Wenger has recently suggested that Mbappe is “perhaps already in the category of clubs who perhaps have more financial potential than us (Arsenal).” This is an incredible statement, literally incredible: it holds no credibility. There is no club in the world with as much cash reserves as Arsenal. Arsenal’s annual income is in the top five of all football clubs and more recently most clubs are competing based on their resources and not on “financial doping.” Beyond that, Arsenal have resources in their playing stable which could be sold in order to help fund a huge purchase like Mbappe.

This season with Arsenal finishing below Tottenham and likely out of the Champions League places should be a wakeup call to Arsene Wenger that the club needs investment. But he’s here claiming false poverty as an excuse for not signing players. More than his tactical faults if Arsene Wenger can’t or won’t sign the players needed to make Arsenal into the competitive force that our financial muscle affords us, then Arsene Wenger should no longer be the manager of Arsenal Football Club. A manager like Guardiola, Conte, Tuchel, or even Carlo Ancelotti wouldn’t keep this current Arsenal side together and would find a way to get top quality players in the team.


¹That’s 9 games.


  1. Loved Deadwood. Great, great show. This will be a disappointing summer in terms of transfers.

    North London derby today. Not optimistic. Chelsea need to keep winning, because while I can just about stomach the fact that Tottenham will finish above us this season, I would be horrified if they won the title.

    1. Arsenal supporters are the only fans in the world rooting against Tottenham. Tottenham’s rise in the League with all these foreign investors dumping money into the League and buying up all the World’s most expensive talent is a great story. Chelsea is just another rich team winning the League. And I fucking hate Chelsea, way more than Spurs: Mourinho, the financial doping, Ashley Cole, Fabregas, Mourinho again, I mean come on. Their fans are racists. How on earth can we root for this over the story that is Tottenham? A team that recruited well, who play hard, who don’t have the best players in the League, who are trying to build a stadium which has a classic stand for the fans… it’s just not in my DNA to root for Chelsea.

      1. Depends on where you live or have lived. It was while living in the UK that I developed my hatred for Spurs. Far removed from that context here in the US, it’s hard to keep that revulsion alive, though that experience over there means that my antipathy to all things Spurs runs a touch deeper than what I feel for Chelsea. For me, anyway, Chelsea have become slightly more palatable sans Mourinho.

      2. Screw Spurs. I’m backing Chelsea. No contest. I dislike them both, but this is my Hitler or Stalin moment. Sticking with this metaphor, I’m going with the Georgian, which obviously means it places me closer to Chelsea.

        You’re entitled to your opinion, of course. But you’re nowhere near the gooner fan base on this one.

        1. I hate Chelsea more than I hate Tottenham but to be honest I think for Arsenal fans its one thing we’ve had to hold on to even in years when we won nothing, so it sucks to see even this “natural order” being upended. Ultimately it will prove to be temporary. Spurs will have a hard time keeping this group together and even if they do, it’s unlikely they will perform this well again next season, and keep key players fit, and get as lucky with shots/goals as this season, and keep up with richer clubs around them all madly trying to improve. It’s much more likely they’ll be 4th-6th again next season as, dare I say, is their rightful place in the league given their wage bill.

  2. Also, I can’t read Mbappe’s name without hearing that Hanson song from the 90s. We have about as much of a chance of signing Mbappe as we do of that band reviving their career.

  3. from the previous thread:

    shard, the only argument i have is the poor management of the mustafi transfer. arsenal could have signed him for £28 million and ended up paying £35 million for him. that’s an additional 25% that arsenal overpaid because arsenal and wenger didn’t seem to respect the nature of valencia’s predicament. everyone knew that arsenal were going to buy the kid but were trying to play tough in a situation where they needed to handle with a bit more care. the longer it took, valencia just kept raising the price from 28 to 30 to 32 to 35 million. it reminded me of how leeds played man united with the rio ferdinand transfer.

    the more significant issue is that arsenal lost their captain in pre-season and their co-captain less than ten games into the season. for the majority, it was plain to see that this was going to be a huge problem that required some serious managerial intervention. there is no one in the squad that could do, tactically, what per and santi could do. since it couldn’t be handled tactically, it needed to be handled strategically by the manager. that strategic intervention never happened. as a result, arsenal go from challenging for the title to not even being close.

    if arsenal had better players, they might have won a few more games but with no direction and leadership on the pitch, or the managerial technical area, they still wouldn’t have won the title. you’ve got to be a united team, not just in spirit but in your play, to beat the chelseas, and fc bayerns. arsenal’s summer transfers were fine. the problems is the loss of leadership and/or lack of managerial intervention.

  4. Meh. Jenko is only following Wenger’s example. He seems happy to be one of the highest paid managers in the world football while simultaneously keeping our cash reserves the highest in club football. Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on Wenger, he’s probably one of the highest paid managers BECAUSE he’s so willing to follow Kroenke’s mandate on this.

    As for the NLD, my sincerest hope is that the tots don’t give us a hiding.

    1. Had a dream last night that we lost 4-0 today. I hope I’m not prophetic. I think a nice, respectable 2-1 loss is more likely, no?

  5. Mbappe. We like to talk about Arsene’s eye for talent, but if it was as good as 20 years ago, we’d have snapped up Mbappe 2 years ago. Wenger is right, Tim. He’s a super rich club prospect now, and much as it irks us to hear him say that, it is true. Monaco is going to demand around £80m for him, and you KNOW that we’re not going to pay that.

    I also find it amusing that we think we can get £30m from other clubs for players we ourselves don’t rate that highly. No one’s going to pay £30m for Jack. Even if his contract wasn’t at the stage that it was.

    1. The reports said that we try to sign him last summer. It’s not Arsene eyes that failed him, it’s something that hold him from completing this bid. Either the Dein role or Arsene ruthlessness, whichever it is, it’s what keep us failing in bringing top talents unlike first 10 years of Arsene.

  6. The thing that this Spurs side has over us that others didn’t is authority. They look like the boss. Like a side that knows it’s better, and is ahead of us on merit. Kind of how we used to look against them in the past.

    Arsene has built a squad, not a team.

    Two-nil down. Let’s see what you’ve got, guys.

    1. I’ve been wondering Tim. If we somehow buy a player this summer who in his previous season, has the same performance as Ramsey golden season. How excited will you be?

      How much faith will you have that, whoever superstar midfielder we buy, even if it’s Keita or Alcantara, they will keep their top performance like how we imagine them to be? I could see Keita goes the same road as Ramsey and Alcantara as Wilshere if we managed them the same way we managed Ramsey and Wilshere.

  7. Geez. Is the Europa League dream over?

    Looking ahead, I see nothing but humiliation in the FA Cup final. I wonder when there will ever be an opportune moment to announce Wenger’s new contract!

  8. spurs fans chanting “we want wenger to stay”! i never thought i would have heard that in a million years. even they know what’s wrong with our club.

  9. 1. I missed the first 20 minutes of this one, but I actually thought we looked decent until the goals. Not great, mind, but Spurs are a good side, always tough to play against at WHL, and their confidence is up whereas ours is low/fragile.

    2. But boy oh boy, the manner of those goals!!!! Talk about throwing away a game!! The first one was scrappy, sure, but that basically means it was down to them wanting the ball more than us. From the moment it went into Kane, there is no reason they should be getting a shot off let alone a goal, yet we make like 4 or 5 half-mistakes in a row, not able to clear our lines. We’re just slow and weak to react, for no good reason. NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

    3. Then the second. Why, Gabriel? Just why? It’s not like Kane is some speedster that you can’t keep up with, so why dive in?

    4. Great pen, but does Cech realize he’s as bad at pens as we all know he is? It seems so, since he’s not even half-diving any more. And his kicking today was, once again, ATROCIOUS.

    5. And then: the manner of our “response”. Sure, the second was a real sucker punch, and it’s going to be psychologically hard for any humans to react and play their best after that disappointment, but BOYS, COME ONE!! This is your season, on the line. The last vestiges of hope of salvaging something beyond utter humiliation for you, your manager, and your club, and you come up with that tripe (ok, I guess the cup final is the last vestiges of hope, but do we really have any doubt how that one’s going to go?).

    6. Perfect game to illustrate how both the manager and the players are equally to blame:

    a) AW sets them up relatively well, they look prepared and relatively up for the game. We’ve got a decent defensive shape about us, and occasionally look dangerous (ish) going forward. And then our defense does that. Twice. You’ve gotta feel bad for the rest of the team, and almost gotta feel bad for Arsene, but then you remember that he’s spent the last 5+ years assembling this mediocrity.

    b) On other hand, those brainless commentators going on and on about the quality gap between their team and ours are either biased or moronic. I mean: Kieran Trippier? Ben Davies? Those are Europa League players, at best, right there. Eric Dier is a stunningly average footballer. Wanyama had a great game, but he’s a big bruising unit, and nothing more. Son and Eriksen are good, skillful attacking players, but not at the truly top level in European football. And yet, as a team, they look miles ahead of us.
    They didn’t out-skill or out-create us. They didn’t even really bully us, the way the Drogba-era Chelsea used to do when they knew they were just so much stronger than us. There was some of that, but really Spurs just out-fought, out-thought, and out-played us. They worked as a single, cohesive team (what an idea). (And their center backs and keeper ARE absolutely top class, so they hold firm when called upon, unlike ours.) Le Saux talked a lot of bollox on the American broadcast (he somehow implied Ozil was at fault for the first goal, for being a “passenger” defensively EARLIER in the game, apparently), but he was spot on when he said that Poch is getting his team to play above their talent level. And he may as well have added that Arsene is getting this team to play below theirs. If he’s going to stay, fine. There’s nothing any of us can do about it. But he must do better. I think he can do better. I don’t think he’s the man to take us forward, but I also think his best as a manager, even in 2017, is better than the job he’s done the last two seasons with this squad. Poch, with a Spurs squad that’s arguably less talented overall, is showing Wenger up. AW needs to figure out his best team, his best formation, and then be absolutely ruthless about trimming and reshaping the squad this summer (all the harder now that we don’t even have Champs League to attract talent). Because this just isn’t good enough. I have zero confidence that this will happen, but maybe the shock of not qualifying for the CL will knock some sense into him.

    7. Once again, those substitutions were poor from Arsene (I know he took a knock in the first half, but unless Xhaka was really struggling, why take him off?). But since I got castigated in midweek for complaining about the subs, I’ll leave it at that here.

    8. Worst Arsenal season since Wenger arrived. Worst season in my time as a supporter.

    1. 1. Agree, though we were incredibly lucky that Spurs missed two glorious chances in the first half. We were inching back into it though.

      2. Absolutely agree. Terrible defending.

      3. Return to earlier in the season where conceding one meant conceding more. Glad it stopped at 2 because our heads and our shape went. Cech still has a few top saves in him.

      4. Cech doesn’t save pens. But Kane said later that he thinks Cech might have stayed up cos last time Kane scored down the middle.

      5. Agree. Meek surrender. (I’d still say we have a chance in the FA Cup. Players lifting themselves for a cup final isn’t uncommon.)

      6. Agree. This can’t continue. Something has to give.

      7. I didn’t castigate you, if that’s what you meant. I’m not sure about the subs, but playing Giroud seemed weird to me. And we also saw the downside of the Ox at wingback against a good side. He simply doesn’t think like a defender.

      8. True.

      Also can I add that Alexis has been terrible lately. I mean the fact that he gives away simple passes and how poor his decision making is. I guess fatigue plays a part in that and he, superhuman though he is, must be tired. But still. Ozil gets slated for far less.

          1. whoa, clever dig!

            In all seriousness, I didn’t mean to be complaining about you or anyone else here, I was just responding to Shard, explaining that, since several people (you included) thought I was way over the top in my criticism of Wenger’s subs in midweek, I wasn’t going to press the issue again here today.

            I certainly don’t feel chippy today! Surprisingly calm and content, actually.

    2. We played well for a large part of the game, agreed, PFo. I like it that we were aggressive in the tackle, and seemed up for a scrap. But honestly once they scored, they were in cruise control.

      You know that game you play with your smaller kid brother when you hold something up out of his reach and keep your other hand on hsi head to stop him jumping to reach it? And you’re physically stonger than he is and he’s vainly thrashing about? That’s how it seemed that Spures were treating us at 2 -0. When was the last time Arsenal were behind against a quality team and looked like mounting a surge?

      We are now a significant way behind Spurs in playing ability. The frustrating thing is that on paper, we seem to have a better squad.

      Heard an interesting stat on the commentary to my part of the world.

      Arsenal have not beaten any side in the Top 8 at home.

      Individual performances, Cech had a good game. Ox was busy, offensively and defensively. No one else treally stood out. Giroud? Oh my.

      1. I thought Ozil was quite good in the second half (but then you know I’m an Ozil-lover…). Kos put in a decent shift (there was a moment in the second half where he made a fantastic diving slide tackle on Kane, getting dumped to the floor in the process, and the next moment Ramsey had given the ball away by pinging a useless Hollywood ball out of touch–pretty much sums it all up…). But otherwise, I agree no one really had a great game. I would say Cech had a good game but his kicking was really bad, yet again.

        But mistakes change games, and we gave away those two goals at the worst possible time, right when we looked to be getting better. Psychologically, we’re weak, something we all know. So it’s not surprising that finding ourselves down 2 goals in 2 minutes meant we fell apart a bit. Agree with your analogy about the big kid and little kid.

    3. Wanyama is more than just a big bruiser.
      He’s got a great engine and his positioning awareness is very good.
      His touch and dribble is better than average for a player his size as well.
      Anyone with ability to make a telling pass with outside of his foot in a 20 to 40 meter range can’t be classified as just a big bruiser.
      His pass to Son, who skinned Ox on the left flank on 25 minute, and one to Kane for one on one with Cech on 75 minute ( both with outside of the foot) show an above average mid range passing ability.
      He also forced Cech into a clever save from outside the box with a tricky shot.

      1. Fair enough. My point is, I don’t think he’s absolutely top quality in there. He’s no vieira or yaya. And he’s a foul machine who gets away with a lot because prem refs are soft/incompetent. Would I take him in our team? Absa-bloody-lutely. But I’d worry that, given how we train and set up, he’d play at our level rather than lift us to his (still very annoying that we had multiple chances to sign him and never went in for him).

        1. Wanyama might be a “foul machine” but he’s the type the PL refs tend to tolerate more than the Xhaka/ Coquelin type of foul machine.
          He stays on his feet while dishing out punishment while Xhaka and Coquelin’s crazy lounges attract immediate attention.

          Wanyama’s £11m transfer and £70k per week wages, against £36m and £90 per week for Xhaka should illustrate effectively who’s done the better business there.

          1. you sure he only cost 11m? I thought it was closer to 30…

            11m is ridiculous.

          2. But Xhaka’s passing is on another level. If we think of Xhaka as our Alonso (or maybe a young Carrick), rather than as our Kante or Wanyama, we’ll all stop regretting what he isn’t and appreciate him for what he is.

  10. I think that if we have Leipzig squad, only Keita, Forsberg, Werner and one or two of their starting 11 would not be in the deadwood list, but look at where they are. Even Atletico teams from a few years probably have just as much talents and dross as we are. We can work with this squad under a more hands on manager.

    Yes, I agree with the new deadwood list but I think some of them can still be worked with under a better manager. It’s different though, if the perspective is Arsene to stays. If he is staying, absolutely we need to fill our team with as much talents as Real or Bayern. If you think it’s unrealistic, then that is how unrealistic we would be to win major trophies under Arsene Wenger again.

    1. Spot on, Nikki. Arsene can be a great manager for a super talented squad (he’d probably have Real going unbeaten in Spain, or something), but with less talented squads, it doesn’t look like he can make enough “europa league” players into valuable contributors on a title-challenging team.

  11. Spurs haven’t won anything yet. They’re a bit like we were in 2007-08, and maybe in 2010-11. The difference is, nobody’s putting pressure on them for a ‘trophy drought’, and they aren’t getting their legs broken, getting pens or cards against, or sent off even for rough play.

    Yes, they are playing well, and playing on a high, but all this Spurs love in, contrasted with what we have been cribbing about with Arsenal over the last few years is weird.

    Meanwhile, it is true that they quite simply are the better team right now. We’ll find out if the club are interested to getting Arsenal back on top (of the Spurs and the league). Regardless of the manager’s future, we’re going to have to splash the cash this off season if we’re serious about getting back. And without CL, we’re going to have to overpay. (Alternatively, we go full circle back to Project Youth, for a longer rebuilding process)

  12. Can’t understand why we must think in terms of Ozil and Sanchez as a must, and Ox or Bellerin as another must. It leaves us with little room to breathe. Again can’t understand use of Giroud in a 3:4:3. Difficult to convince me that the squad we have can’t produce better.

  13. Unfortunately we will not progress until Arsene leaves. We could have the Juve back four and we would still screw up because Arsene allows players to work problems out themselves. In the modern era Conte, Poch, Guardiola and the other top managers coach players to within an inch of their lives. They know where they should be in every scenario where Le Boss tells our boys to “go play” and “express themselves”. This does not work anymore. You could even argue that Arsene underachieved from 2001-5 despite the invincibles. We had the best players in Europe – Campbell, Vieira, Pires and Henry would have gotten in any team in the world with Cole, Lauren, Ljungberg, Gilberto and Bergkamp only fractionally behind them. Yet we could even make a CL Semi let alone win the damn thing or retain a championship. If Arsene couldn’t do it with the best team I fail to see how anyone can think he can do it when we’re up against better teams. Also bear in mind that all his success came when we were only up against ManUre. When Chelsea came along we slipped. Now with City, Spurs and an improving Liverpool in the equation, I think we’ll struggle to get back in the top four. Too many better managers. The days of a “jazzer” manager, of which Arsene was the finest exponent, are gone. It’s all about control and autonisms now and Le Boss would struggle to be in the top ten in the league at this.

  14. Great article, Tim.

    My guide for clearing the deadwood and sprucing up the squad:

    1. I like Gibbs, but Monreal is better, and I don’t even think Gibbs makes a good backup, as he needs a run of games and a lot of confidence to get anywhere close to his very top level, and it’s debatable whether that level is really even good enough. Sell Gibbs, bring in the Kolasinac lad, hopefully.

    2. Sell Ospina, Debuchy, and Jenkinson. Since I’m assuming we’re hanging on to Per (I don’t care how good he is in the dressing room, if he’s never going to play then it’s not money well spent, but oh well, we’ve already extended his contract), sell one of Gabriel or Chambers, unless we’re committing entirely to a back three for the foreseeable future, in which case the extra cover at CB might not be a bad idea. If you’re old enough you’re good enough: give Holding, and even Bielik, a real shot at claiming a place in the starting 11. Not saying they definitely should be starters, but if, for instance, one of them plays a suburb game against a top side in a Wembley semifinal, don’t bench him the next week for Kieran Gibbs….

    3. Buy a top class partner for Xhaka. He could be a beastly, Wanyama-esque type, though one who can pass (e.g. William Carvalho), or an all-action, Kante/Vidal type, maybe with some Dembele-esque dribbling ability thrown in (e.g. the Bundesliga lads, Keita and Goretzka are supposed to be quality, though I don’t know how defensively solid they are). In any event, he needs to be faster and more mobile than Xhaka, much better on the ball than Coquelin, and much stronger than Elneny. DO NOT PENNY PINCH!

    4. Sell one of Elneny or Coquelin, depending on the type of player you buy from point 3 (probably you won’t have a buyer for either of these players, in which case, consider loaning them). Keep the other as a squad player.

    5. Decide which of Ramsey and Wilshere is more likely to kinda/sorta/maybe eventually fulfill their potential, and sell the other one, preferably for 25+ mill (but don’t try holding out too much). Even getting close to 20 for Wilshere at this point would probably be a good idea; for Ramsey I’m betting there’d be someone dumb enough to pay 30+. Since I’m in the minority who still think they’ve both got big potential, I’d like to keep one of them, but keeping both just seems crazy optimistic.

    6. Sign the Ox to a fat new contract. He’s pretty much the only one of the original “English Core” (not counting Holding) who looks like he might fulfill his potential, sooner rather than later. If this means giving him 120 mill, do it.

    7. Do your best to sign up Ozil and Sanchez to fat new contracts too (I’m not holding my breath). They are both world class quality, whatever anyone says, and the key to getting us back to playing well again (assuming it’s Wenger in charge) is to sign better players to play with them, not to blame them for everything bad that happens when they have to regularly try to combine in attack with the likes of Giroud and Walcott. World class players don’t grow on trees, and they’re not going to be itching to come to Arsenal this summer anyway. If one or both of them refuses to sign, keep them for next year, UNLESS we can get 40+ for Alexis and 30+ for Ozil (even then, I don’t think I would let em go, but that’s just me).

    8. Sell one or both of Walcott and Giroud. Ideally both.

    9. Sell one of Welbeck and Lucas, unless you sell both Walcott and Giroud and only bring in one new forward, in which case, keep both as squad players.

    10. Sell Joel Campbell. Could probably get 8-10 for him? A decent bit of business, since Arsene clearly doesn’t rate him.

    11. ARSENE, SIGN A (POTENTIALLY) WORLD CLASS STRIKER. IF MBAPPE WILL COST 100 MILLION AND THE REALS AND BARCAS OF THE WORLD ARE PUT OFF BY THE PRICE, THEN WE MIGHT HAVE A CHANCE IF WE PUT UP THE CASH. If not, then look elsewhere: Aubameyang, Griezmann, maybe Lacazette (I always like the look of him, but admit I don’t watch enough Ligue 1), etc. Again, DO NOT PENNY PINCH.

    12. If 11 doesn’t work out, I’d consider keeping Giroud as backup, turning Alexis into a permanent number 9 (note: this is going to require work in preseason teaching him how to play the position properly!), and buying an electric, goal-scoring wide player (e.g. would think Mahrez will be available this summer; it’s a gamble, but I’m betting he can return to his last-season form; Coman and Douglas Costa have both been rumored to be unsettled at Bayern..). This option is to be exercised ONLY in the event that everything possible has been done to achieve point 11.

    A top class striker, a top class center mid, a left back/wingback, holding on to the right people, getting rid of the right people. I know it’s not easy. Far from it. But at least the objectives should be pretty straightforward, no?

  15. Outclassed by Spurs in a game that matters? The end times must be drawing nigh.

    Sorry Tim, this article is dross. It’s not the deadwood that’s the problem. None of the players you mentioned had any bearing on how this season unfolded. They may not be great and they are probably overpaid but to focus on them misses the point. If anything, maintaining such a stable of players is what separates Arsenal FC from clubs a tier below them, like Spurs. Yes, they were the better team this year. But we remain by far the bigger and more potent football club.

    What Spurs had over us this season, similar to Chelsea, is an overall team focus on defending, consistency at the CF position and sustained fitness of their best players. Yes Poch and Conte are good managers but it doesn’t take a genius to do what either of them did: shut up shop and hope that their extremely talented forwards score enough goals. They were also lucky. Chelsea scored the most goals above expectation in the PL this year, similar to Leicester last year, and Tottenham were second most lucky. They had to earn it but the chips fell their way too.

    Arsenal started the season well but unraveled. Nobody is getting a free pass on that; not Arsene, not the players. The thing to do now is not ruminate on how bad our worst players, not to blow he whole thing up, not to navel gaze about he end of an era or some nonexistent power shift; the thing to do now is to complement our best players with more talent, including a top drawer striker, and continue to develop the complementary pieces. Whoever our manager is, that is our best route to success. And I don’t think anyone has to tell Wenger his team gave up too many goals this season.

    1. An uncharitable assessment, Doc.

      I think you’re wrong about their tactic being to shut up shop and hope (your word) that their forwards can bring it home. Their guys in the middle of the park — Dembele, Eriksen, Wanyama and Sissoko — can really play. As can Son out wide.

      I was prepared to throw something at the Tv the next time some commentator talked about the changing of the guard in morth London, but honestly, their cliche did not sound out of place given the evidence before our eyes.

      The game was very competitive in parts, but in the end, they saw us off with some ease.

      One area of grudging admiration. They’re a team of athletes, and with the exception of Eriksen, big, physically imposing players. Jamie Redknapp once said that the Arsenal of Wenger’s early years used to intimidate you just standing next to them in the tunnel. I won’t desecrate the memory of that team, but this Spurs side is both big and athletic.

    2. Hey Doc, have you ever heard the saying you create your own luck in football.

      Both Chelsea and Spurs have been the most consistent performers this season and to deny them the effort and the skill it requires to put together a solid ,if not spectacular ,showing over the length of the term is not only shortsighted but it reeks of biased sour grapes.

      Also, Spurs have hit the woodwork the most in the PL so how is that most lucky?

      And as far as the overpaid and underused Arsenal players are concerned, they are precisely part of the reason why Arsenal haven’t put together a consistent performance in the PL for over a decade.

      There’s enough fat to trim around the edges of this Arsenal roster to create funds not for one but two world class players, if Wenger had it in him to cut ties with some of the pet projects and sentimental favorites.
      Even though I understand how it must be difficult for him to do that , since telling these players how he believes it them over and over stands in total contrast with calling them to his office and saying ‘ I was wrong about you, you don’t have what it takes to make it here”

      It’s much easier to just stop playing them altogether and send them out on loan if they complain hard enough.
      Wenger collects fringe players like my seventy year old parents collect junk in hope some day it will become useful again.

  16. Top of the deadwood list should be Kroenke and then Wenger. Arsenal are annually fifth to seventh in revenue on Deloitte’s money league for the past handful of seasons and have the largest cash reserve in club football. Get an owner who wants to maximize the results on the pitch rather than profits, who isn’t happy with fourth and half hearted attempts to win because going all in to win would decrease the profit margin, and Arsenal would be be much better. Arsenal are a business who’s product happens to be a sporting brand rather than a football club trying to maximize on pitch results and that’s down to silent Stan and his minion, Wenger.

    1. Stan Kroenke is the least modifiable aspect of Arsenal’s on pitch success or lack thereof. He is who he is and that isn’t changing. And if it wasn’t him, it’d be someone else doing basically the same thing. That’s modern football. You either live with it or you stop consuming it; that’s the only meaningful way to protest.

      1. And discussing who the club should sell, who we should buy, tactics, and whether or not Gunnersaurus should continue as our mascot CAN be influenced by discussions on this board? Doc, I am perfectly aware that the only control I have as a fan is to follow Arsenal or not. But I disagree that a different owner or ownership group couldn’t change the club’s on pitch results. I realize that ownership change is not very interesting to discuss or debate. I am far more interested in players and tactics than finances and ownership. But Kroenke’s benign neglect is one major reason for the club’s current malaise.

  17. Deadwood is a problem but isn’t anywhere near the top of our “99 Problems” 98 of our problems cAn be lumped together – the old story – a chronic and sever inability to defend with any composure or discipline.

    It all starts at the back for me an I’ve beating this drum for years.

    We got we deserved today and 2-0 is a flattering scoreline.

    1. But we know that Wenger doesn’t focus on defense (he can/does coach it, of course, but a Wenger team is never going to be as organized, especially without the ball, as one coached by the hyper-detailed new breed of coaches). And all indications are that he’s going to stay on. So our best hope of success in the short term is to significantly improve the quality of our squad, so we can play Wengerball again. And to do that we most likely have to allay the costs of big purchases by selling some assets. Hence, this post.

  18. A big problem with Arsenal is that Arsene himself is tactically adrift. Take Iwobi. He’s gone from a cert in the XI to squad exile. Mind you, I didn’t think that he brought enough productivity to the left-sided role (and off the field was beginning to believe his own celebrity), but the way he has disappeared from view is astonishing.

    One month Sanchez is his Suarez, the next he gets shunted back to the left to accommodate two goal-shy forwards, Giroud and Welbeck.

    And Lucas? That case deserves some kind of internal investigation. Arsene, our formerly great manager, is lost.

    1. Totally agree. Iwobi hasn’t been seen, if I’m not mistaken, since a brief cameo against Man City in the league, when he came on and actually showed skill and spark, including a wonderful mazy run. His reward for that has been zero minutes of playing time in the last (by my rough count) 390 minutes of Arsenal game time. I get taking him out of the firing line a bit, but where’s the logic in completely abandoning him after relying on him so heavily for over a year, during which time, even at his worst, he has hardly been close to our worst performer. It’s not like the players in front of him have all been lighting it up.

      1. Iwobi is a sieve, he literally leaks goals by switching off.

        I’m all for developing talent and he certainly has the potential to be great, but he needs seasoning.

  19. And nobody has addressed the fact that our big money signings have hardly lit up the sky. Deadwood out, deadwood in.

    1. Xhaka you mean? I think he has done exactly what I expect him to be in this team. That is if at the start you didn’t get blind with rose tinted description of him. What do you think should he bring that he didn’t bring yet?

  20. Xhaka and co. Is Ozil £42.5M, Xhaka £35M, Musti £32? What’s the point of a 27yr @ £17M who can’t make the bench? Obviously not an investment in potential.

    Xhaka’s would have been excellent but for the fact that he is slow in pace and reaction. Exactly why Dele got to the ball before him for Spur’s 1st goal. Exactly why he can’t tackle. They say the strength of a chain is the strength of the weakest link.

    The litmus test is to gauge how much these big buys can fetch in the market today. 40% minimum knockdown in price, I would say.

  21. Arsenal, should be interested only in the available best, Our scouting dept needs to acquire that mentality and the expertise to match. 2nd best is no longer good enough. We are now supposed to be competing with the bests. This should be the starting point.

  22. Can someone explain to me how Kroenke makes money off Arsenal? All this talk of he’s only in it for the money, which I agree with, but HOW is he making money right now? Apart from the salary he draws and the dividends in all but name he took for 2 years.

    How does Arsenal having large cash reserves help him?

    Arsenal are careful with money. But money lying in the bank can also be money wasted. Maybe they were saving it for when they did fall out of the CL spots and needed to overpay? Or when they get in a new manager who will not agree to the budgets Wenger has agreed to? I don’t know. What else could it be?

    But I think there are going to be some structural changes at the club. For one, I think there will be a GM (or DoF) appointed. Maybe Pires, who has said he wants to be one, is involved with Arsenal regularly, represents them well, probably understands this generation of players, and importantly, shares a mutual trust with Wenger, who is probably staying (and it would make sense for Arsenal to go for a gradual change) Kind of like Pavel Nedved for Juventus.

    Arsenal, as Doc says, need continuity. Whether that is through the manager or not. A GM will help, because we need to reestablish our identity in terms of style of play. Give Wenger the tools to do that, or find a new manager who can carry that legacy forward. But changing up to a defensive game with a defensive coach would go against the Arsenal brand, and I neither think it will, nor wish for it, to happen.

    1. Kroenke makes money through asset appreciation. The value of AFC has gone from $1.2 billion to $2.02 billion. Taking a million (or three) a year is chump change. He probably benefits more from our valuation and clean balance sheet (aka our £200MM cash reserve) making it easier for him to borrow money to build the $2.6 billion for the new Rams stadium in LA.

      Calling us the 4th richest club is kind of inaccurate. We’re the 4th most valuable on paper, as estimated by Forbes. Income-wise we’re seventh as measured by Deloitte. Unfortunately, the range in the top 10 clubs is pretty large. We may be #7 but that’s a long way off from #1 or #4 for that matter. In 2015-16 we made £468MM vs £689MM for ManU or £592MM for Bayern. That’s 47 to 26% more. Exactly how do you outbid a club that makes £100 to 200 million more than you do? And who thinks it’s a good idea to spend upwards of 20% of your yearly income on a teenager who is no guarantee to pan out and is one bad tackle from becoming a cripple like Diaby?

      I’d love to get Mbappe, but to be realistic, it’s not going to happen. Certainly not if he goes for £100MM. To put it in perspective Martial was valued by Transfermarkt at £5.7MM prior to being bought for £36MM (£58MM w incentives). Mbappe is valued at £8.4MM, I would fall off my chair if Arsene paid £40MM for him, even though that is ‘reasonable’ in today’s market.

      By the way the new TV deal will pay us on the order of £140 million, up from £100 million last year. That will bump us all the way up to, wait for it… #7 on the list. That’s right, no change. Though to be fair we’ll be a lot closer to #6 PSG at £520MM. Of course next year the TV money will be offset by what we lose from not making the CL. What Brexit does to the currency is another wild card.

      What I want Arsene to do is start buying young striking talent and then loaning them out to good sides that are proven at developing talent in return for giving them a cut. Or if the rules don’t allow it, selling them but including a buyback that will give the developing team significant upside. Martial didn’t come out of nowhere, he was watched by Evra. We could have bought him from Lyon for €5MM in 2013. Mbappe was signed as a youth product, but Arsene/Henry would have had a shot. Griezmann was on our radar when we had the option on Carlos Vela at Sociedad.

      1. Asset appreciation I get. But that’s only increasing his worth. Not bringing him money right now. But for the balance sheet or cash reserves? Can Kroenke actually leverage Arsenal’s money in Arsenal’s bank account to get a loan for another entity? (KSE isn’t building the stadium are they? and KSE only own about 70% of Arsenal)

        If Kroenke has an inherent interest in keeping loads of cash in the bank for Arsenal then we’re likely screwed and negates much of the hard years of the stadium build.

        On the rest, I totally agree with you.

        Apart from what Brexit does to the currency, there is also a possibility, however slight, that it will also affect the rules around player registration.

      2. On mbappe it’s really simple. Last summer proved we are capable of spending 100 mill on signings. I think we could have done even more, but in any event, if we just do the same again, plus make another 50 mill in player sales, that’s 150 to spend. This squad needs quality over quantity. It’s good, but bloated, and needs an injection of top quality in a few key areas. I’ve suggested we should spend huge on a striker and center mid, rather than spend medium on 4-5 players for the same total sum (and get the schalke lb in a free). So that leaves us with 80-100 for a striker and 40-50 for a midfielder. I fail to see why that should be unrealistic.

  23. Arsenal used to make good profit from player trading. Not anymore now that we have to keep our best players as well as buy big. But I fear we are buying big poorly and that’s what would get Kronke and the Board seething. Wenger better watchout.

  24. That Big Bad CB that Arsenal need. Yesterday, Middlesbrough’s Callum Chambers seemed like he could fulfill that role. He was immense. Also, Middlesbrough’s defensive miserliness seemed to go away when he got injured in the middle of the season. (Not seem the numbers, going by the eye test)

    Chambers as the rock, and Mustafi/Holding as the more technical CB could work. Kos and Per as the elder statesmen could slot in here and there.

  25. A few weeks ago I came up with pretty much the same list as this article and much the same conclusions. But I disagree on Mertesacker and Cazorla. Keep both for a year. They add value to the squad even if they play only occasionally. Also, isn’t Debuchy out of contract this summer? And I think Campbell still has one more year to go.

    What complicates the issue is knowing what is going to happen with Alexis and Ozil. I’m sure there are some clubs willing to spend big money on them. So will we sell or hold on to them? Will they extend?

    I would sell Ospina and bring back Szczesny.
    Sell Gibbs, and bring in a new LB (maybe already sorted and on a free?)
    Have Kos, Per, Mustafi, Chambers and Holding as our CBs.
    Bellerin and Gabriel as RB (one attacking and one more defensive full back on either side) (Plus have option of going 3 at the back if needed)
    Obviously sell Debuchy and Jenkinson.

    In Midfield, I’d keep Xhaka. I’d keep Coquelin(as a squad player), and keep Ox (also complicated by contract). I’d also hold on to Santi because he can provide quality when he does play. Keep one of Ramsey or Wilshere(probably Ramsey) and sell Elneny. Buy a top quality midfielder who allows you to control the game.

    Forwards. Keep Ozil and Alexis for the season (no CL will make it tougher to get replacements for the money, and who knows, maybe they sign up if we buy well and do well again) Buy a top, goalscoring CF. Sell 2 of Giroud, Welbeck, Walcott and Perez. If indeed Marseille are offering 20m for Giroud, I’m tempted to sell him, even though I really like what he brings.

    Flesh out the squad with our loanees and academy players. The likes of Toral, Akpom (both need to be registered) Jeff, Willock (if he stays. He is out of contract), Zelalem, Maitland-Niles, Bielik. Play one or two of these guys in games instead of buying low quality backups. They cost nothing, are on lower wages, don’t take up squad spaces, and will at least bring some enthusiasm (and maybe an Arsenal identity) to the table when they play.

    I reckon we could make 80-90m from these sales and free up around 500k in wages.

  26. Well all seems fair but what can we do about the performance no matter what our players don’t have a clue against an Ok opponents even if we end up selling all the dead wood and buy some top players we can’t win a thing of we can’t do anything about the mentality of coming on to pitch with no plans.

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